“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle
or the mirror that reflects it ”~Edith Wharton.
One of the joys of growing up in the country in Jamaica was experiencing nature up close and personal. ‘Peenie-wallies’, the Jamaican name for glow-worms, could entertain us kids for hours, as they randomly blinked on and off in the dark. We were grossed out by the ‘crawny’ looking ‘croak’n lizards (they truly look ghost-like, and make a noise way bigger than they are), and fell asleep to the chirping of cicadas or the ‘coqui’ of the frogs. Every evening at dusk, flocks of bats would emerge from the rafters of the church roof to go hunting, emitting high pitched squeals as they went. Our morning alarm would be heralded by one or other of the many neighborhood roosters, leaving us in no doubt it was time to get up.
Sometimes in the routine of city life, we forget the simple things, neglect the natural rhythms of life. We are so caught up in our apps and gadgets that we have lost our ability to respond to the cues and hints of Mother Nature. Remember smelling the warning of rain? Remember knowing which fruits were in season? Remember the joy of handpicked fruit, the smell of homegrown mint and thyme? Those who grow up in the colder climes enjoy the signs of the changing seasons. After a bitter winter, the hint of tiny buds on bare tree branches brings hope that spring and then summer may actually reappear.
There is much to appreciate in life And sometimes we need to be reminded. The nag of bills and the need to work for a living can overwhelm us. We can become bogged down in the stresses and challenges of our job. We can be annoyed by the constant need to feed and clean and parent, longing for a wand to magically reboot our messy lives. Often we spend hours trying to change our appearance to someone else’s idea of beauty. We often fail to recognize our own strengths and qualities that others can see so clearly.
I was reminded recently of another interesting turn of speech. The Cuban way of asking a pregnant woman when her baby is due is a phrase which literally translates into ‘when will you give the light?’ (I may not be saying it exactly correctly); ‘da a luz’ is the phrase. Such a beautiful concept, that giving birth means bringing light into the world. This was matched by a scientific study which found that the moment of fertilization of egg and sperm creates sparks of light! Which makes you wonder, how did they discover this? Did a woman’s abdomen glow like a ‘peenie-wallie’ in a darkened room?
There is a man in South Florida who is highlighting sparks of light in the world. Allan Cunningham (of People Profiles) interviews people and groups who are making a difference in this world. He posts on facebook, and has an award show at which he celebrates their accomplishments. How often do we spend time watching the news, hearing of terrible things happening around the world? We are drawn to disaster, love to slow down to see car crashes and train wrecks. It is good to know that there are people who are doing their part to spread good news, to give us an alternative.
We don’t have to make a big splash to generate joy. We can be the person that makes a room light up when we enter it, merely by projecting joy. I know my face can be very serious when I am thinking. If I am not careful, people will think that I am angry, or worried. When we wear our emotions on our sleeve, we can change the mood of those around us. It takes energy to project positivity, but the returns are endless.
Whether you are the candle that spreads light directly, or the mirror that reflects and spreads it indirectly, you can do your part to cast out the darkness in this world. We can choose to dwell in the depths, to pay attention only to the negative, to be like Eeyore seeing gloom and doom everywhere. Or we can see the hope and joy in the everyday miracles around us. We can remind others of their beauty and talent. We can support and encourage sparks of light wherever we see them, so that we can wipe out the dark shadows of mistrust and suspicion.
This Friday morning I am getting ready to go to New York to celebrate the legacy of a man who lit a candle in the hills of Clarendon, Jamaica almost 75 years ago. The Rev. Lester Davy saw the need for a high school for the children of the farmers in the parish, and was determined to be the one to get it started. That light is still blazing from the hill, and continues to inspire and educate thousands of students each year.
Have a wonderful weekend Family! May you direct your energy towards the positive, starting in your small corner! You in your small corner, and I in mine!